Staring into the inky murk on stage, shapes shift unnoticed from side to side, front to back, duets come together, intertwine, move on and repeat with effortless grace. A trio slides onto the stage from the left at the rear, three highly skilled dancers execute rapid flashes of movement, perfectly in synch, their musicality is sublime, perfect in every way, it will be an experience the audience will never forget. Halcyon times for all!
At least it would be if they could see any of that happening because the lighting is so poorly designed the theatre's resident bats have signed a petition in protest at not being able to see what the hell is going on!
We know some good lighting designers in the wacky world of dance. They're the ones that can sculpt fantastic scenes on stage whilst leaving enough light so the paying punters can grasp the fundamentals of the choreography without squinting or eating half a ton of carrots before the show.
The rest are the ones that walk up to one of our camera operators at the end of a show and say, with a smug grin on their face; "was it dark enough for you?"
Our answer to that, which we never say out loud is;
"actually it ******* wasn't mate because our camera's can pretty much see in the dark, the audience on the other hand is waiting outside to insert your lighting plan into your body in a way which will not be comfortable!"
Some lighting designers seem to have confused "murky" with "moody" or "subtle" with "we can't see anything you muppet!"
One particular trick that lighting designers appear to enjoy endlessly is not lighting the stage floor. This gives the appearance of dancers with no feet running about on stumps on a layer of black nothingness. Because all the light is from the side and the dancers have no visual clue as to where the floor is they end up getting blinded, stumble about a lot and generally crash into things.
Many a secret wish has been made off stage by dancers that the guy with all the bulbs (yes we know you call them lamps, fuse boy!) will have an unfortunate accident involving a lake, a crocodile and some paper cuts!
Of course the choreographer takes some responsibility for this because they are the ones asking for the lighting to be done. But, as a trained professional lighting person it's your job, it's your responsibility to just say no to all this crap.
Demand a clean, effective and creative lighting rig because if you don't we'll gaffer tape you to a pole, wire you up and plug you in until you glow as bright as the stars!